Justify's value skyrockets after winning Triple Crown at Belmont Park

Justify right ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the backstretch during the Belmont Stakes horse race

Justify right ridden Mike Smith leads the field at the end of the backstretch during the Belmont Stakes horse race

The chestnut colt burst onto the national scene with a 2½-length victory on a sloppy track in the Derby. I felt on my watch, if he's happy, I'll keep him running. Superior horse. I mean, he could have won every race on the undercard today.

Jockey Florent Geroux (center in pink silks) is seen leaving the gate at the Belmont Stakes, with victor Justify on the far left.

Barnes, a Santa Rosa native and 1977 graduate of Montgomery High School, had the pleasure of walking Triple Crown victor Justify around the grounds while camera-clicking fans followed their every step, intent on getting a shot or horse racing's newest superstar. "People love history being made in sports".

Baffert became the second trainer to win the Triple Crown twice. Now, three years after American Pharoah ended the sport's 37-year drought, he did it again. Fitzsimmons did it with Gallant Fox in 1930 and Omaha in 1935. "No, Restoring Hope, he has natural speed, and his only chance was to be up near the lead in the first wave because he's like a one-dimensional horse", he said. "American Pharoah, he'll always be my first love". Six wins from six starts and a Triple Crown for icing in less than four months is heady, historical stuff.

Justify will travel from Belmont Park to Churchill Downs in Kentucky to get a "week or so" off before owners decide what's next for the undefeated horse. The last time there were two Triple Crown champions in the same decade was the 1970s, which produced Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed.

Asked Saturday after the race about the idea of using Restoring Hope as a "wing man" out of the gates for Justify, Baffert downplayed it.

Justify's winning time was 2:28.18 for the 1 ½ miles over a track rated fast, unlike his two previous wins, which came over sloppy tracks at Churchill Downs and Pimlico.

"This horse ran a tremendous race, he's so gifted", Smith said. "He's so gifted. He's sent from heaven. I just question Geroux's ride". How far can I go - 10 wide - and try to go to the lead?

Justify becomes the thirteenth Triple Crown victor and the first since American Pharoah in 2015.

Sixteen weeks ago, no one knew what to make of Justify - except Hall of Fame horse racing trainer Bob Baffert.

'If my horse would have broke on top, I would have been on the lead and Justify laying second.

The big colt took command before the first turn, settling into a comfortable rhythm as stablemate Restoring Hope and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Bravazo kept him in their sights.

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